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Medically Reviewed

Alcohol Treatment

- 12 sections

Medically Verified: January 23, 2024

Medical Reviewer:

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.


Alcohol abuse is extremely prevalent in the United States, affecting over 15 million Americans.[1] Unfortunately, only about 10% of afflicted people seek help for alcohol addiction. Alcohol abuse is defined as heavy drinking or consuming more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men. When an individual routinely abuses alcohol, they often develop a dependence or an addiction to the substance. As a result, most individuals will need to receive professional help for alcohol addiction from a rehabilitation center.

Drinking alcohol causes a release of chemicals in the brain that produce feelings of sensation and pleasure. These euphoric and enjoyable effects of drinking are what makes it so addictive to certain people. When an individual drinks on a regular basis, they will find themselves having to routinely increase their alcohol intake in order to trigger the chemical release that they have grown to crave. This ultimately makes an individual experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop drinking.

Addiction to alcohol typically results in varying physical, psychological, and social effects. For example, individuals suffering from alcoholism might experience long-term effects such as weight gain and liver problems, as well as alcohol-related legal issues or the inability to hold a job. Therefore, if you or a loved one are currently suffering from alcoholism or alcohol abuse, it is recommended that you seek help for alcohol addiction immediately.


Alcohol is the intoxicating agent found in beer, wine, and liquor. Additionally, alcohol is made through the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.[2] Alcohol is a substance with high potential for abuse and addiction due to its main ingredient; ethanol. Ethanol is a chemical that, once consumed, acts as a central nervous system depressant. Ethanol intoxication produces side-effects such as decreased brain function, slurred speech, difficulty walking, impaired motor skills, and lowered inhibitions. This is what causes people to get drunk and lose their inhibitions.

Different Types of Alcohol

There are three main types of alcohol, each one varying by how it was manufactured and what it was mixed with. For example, the three primary forms of alcohol are:

  • Isopropyl alcohol is used for sterilization, like rubbing alcohol.
  • Methyl alcohol is used in industrial solvents, like paint remover.
  • Ethyl alcohol also referred to as grain alcohol, is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.

While each type of alcohol is toxic to the human body, ethyl alcohol is the only form meant for human consumption. Ethyl alcohol, or drinking alcohol, comes in many forms that vary in alcohol content:

  • Beer contains roughly 2-6% alcohol
  • Wine can contain 8-20% alcohol
  • Liqueurs can have 15-60% alcohol
  • Tequila, gin, brandy, rum, whiskey, and vodka typically contain up to 40-50% alcohol

Individuals consuming alcohol should always pay attention to how much they have consumed. However, many people don’t, causing them to surpass the safe limits of alcohol consumption. Once a person begins abusing alcohol, they run the risk of becoming dependent on it. As a result of overdrinking, experiencing moderate to severe side effects of alcohol is common. If you or a loved one is drinking too much, you may need to attend a professional alcohol treatment center in order to prevent the long-term effects of alcohol use.


Unfortunately, alcohol is an extremely addictive substance. When an individual consumes large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time, they increase their risk of addiction. Additionally, alcohol addiction develops through several stages, each one varying in severity. Shockingly, the process of alcohol addiction can begin with the first drink, sometimes with physical and mental factors developing rapidly. For others, alcoholism develops slowly over time. Either way, this condition is dangerous, deadly, and requires professional treatment.

Endorphins Released through Alcohol Consumption

Like any other addictive substance, alcohol will affect an individual’s brain chemistry even after just one drink. After a person consumes alcohol, their brain releases a surge of endorphins that signal feelings of pleasure and reward. This rush of endorphins makes people feel happy and boisterous when they drink, incentivizing them to continue. Although some people use drinking as a way of socializing with others, those who abuse it tend to isolate and typically end up suffering from depression and other mental health conditions.

Tolerance to Alcohol

After the short term effects of alcohol wear off, so does the heightened release of endorphins. As a result, the chemical-induced feelings of happiness, pleasure, and satisfaction wear off as well. Oftentimes, people will continue to drink alcohol in order to experience those feelings again or to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Drinking alcohol continually will cause an individual to develop a tolerance, meaning it takes more of the substance to produce the desired effect. The more a person drinks, they more likely they are to suffer consequences or require help for their alcoholism.

Alcohol Dependence

As an individual continues their alcohol consumption, their body and brain will begin to become adjusted to the heightened levels of endorphins that alcohol causes. This stage of alcohol addiction, referred to as dependence, makes it necessary to consume alcohol in order for their body to function normally. If a person who is dependent on alcohol doesn’t drink, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal

If an individual who is dependent upon alcohol stops their consumption, they will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is defined as the body experiencing a volatile reaction due to the substance (alcohol) not being present. For example, symptoms of withdrawal include:[3]

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Trembling or shaking hands
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Fever and chills
  • Confusion
  • Racing heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens

Alcohol Addiction (Physical and Psychological Dependence)

Addiction to alcohol occurs once a person has become physically and psychologically dependent on the substance. For example, people who are psychologically dependent on alcohol will experience mental cravings for alcohol. At this stage, people are likely to experience the negative side effects of drinking, such as financial, legal, and social issues. Despite the consequences of their alcohol consumption, they are unable to stop drinking.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

If you are concerned about your or your loved one’s alcohol consumption, it is helpful to be aware of the signs of alcohol abuse. While many individuals abusing alcohol attempt to hide their symptoms of alcoholism, over time the signs will become more obvious and severe.

The common signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Drinking despite social, legal, or interpersonal issues
  • Alcohol use resulting in mental or physical damage
  • Using alcohol to cope with one’s problems
  • Continuing alcohol consumption despite developing an alcohol-related illness or other physical problems
  • Being defensive or angry when confronted about their alcohol use
  • Feelings of guilt associated with one’s alcohol use
  • Drinking in the morning to treat hangovers
  • Drinking in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, alcohol addiction is likely. Alcohol withdrawal is associated with being dependent and can be severe and possibly life-threatening. Therefore, for those suffering from an addiction or dependence, attending an alcohol detox is vital.

Diagnosing Alcohol Abuse

Physicians and addiction specialists diagnose alcohol use disorder based on the information a patient provides. In other words, there are no blood tests that can diagnose or indicate alcohol abuse. As a result, it is extremely important for patients to be transparent and honest about their alcohol consumption and symptoms. While diagnosing alcohol abuse is based on a patient’s personal history, there are several other factors that doctors look for.

The most important factors in diagnosing alcohol addiction include:[4]

  • Increased physical tolerance to alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms being present after alcohol use is stopped
  • Inability to quit drinking or frequent relapses
  • Neglecting responsibilities or social activities
  • The amount of time an individual spends drinking
  • Drinking alcohol despite experiencing health issues
  • Strong desires or compulsions to consume alcohol

While these factors are used in order to diagnose alcohol use disorder, accurate diagnosis depends on the honesty of a patient. Doctors and addiction specialists are trained to be non-judgemental, therefore, you can tell them the truth without fear of negative consequences. If an individual is honest with their doctor, receives a diagnosis for alcohol addiction, and attends professional alcohol treatment, recovery is attainable.


If you or a loved one are dependent or addicted to alcohol, the Charlotte Detox Center is here to help. Addiction to alcohol is synonymous with experiencing withdrawal symptoms after consumption is ceased. Therefore, attending a professional alcohol detox center is vital for an addicted individual’s health.

Detox is the first step when it comes to getting help for alcohol addiction. Since chronic drinkers may experience potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms, nobody should ever detox from alcohol alone. Instead, a medical detox facility can administer medications that will help control blood pressure, prevent seizures, and promote comfort during the detoxification process. In addition, alcohol detox provides a safe place for individuals to start their journey and develop a treatment plan.

After detox, there are a variety of alcohol rehab options at your disposal. Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient treatment, an addiction specialist can help you decide which treatment option will provide you with the best path towards lasting sobriety.

We can provide you with the support, compassion, and medical treatment that you deserve. If you would like to quit drinking and start a new way of life, call us today to get help for alcohol addiction today.